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Cycling Weekly
Cycling Weekly
James Shrubsall

Wiggle's takeover is an opportunity for small bike businesses, says clothing CEO

Shopping in a bike shop.

The takeover of Wiggle is an opportunity that small companies can benefit from, according to the CEO of UK clothing brand Lusso, Jake Wright.

Lusso makes its own clothing in its small Manchester-based headquarters, and like other manufacturers and retailers its size, doesn't have the marketing budget of global behemoths such as WiggleCRC.

Wiggle had so much clout that its recent closing down sale had a significant effect on Lusso's financials for the last quarter of 2023, Wright said, as customers flocked to buy goods at rock-bottom prices.

But now that Wiggle has been taken over by Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, it's time for Lusso and others to seize the day, he said.

"There's definitely opportunities there now, because it's more than likely that the Wiggle-owned brands like DHB won't be trading for a year or two while it gets under new management and restarts again," he said.

"So we're looking to capitalise on where those customers are going to go in the short term," Wright added. "And hopefully they like us, and they come back to us. We don't have this massive budget to spend on marketing to shout about our name, So we rely on the sort of loyal following that we've amassed over the last 40 years to just keep coming back."

WiggleCRC entered administration in October and was put up for sale after its parent company, Signa Sports United, had €150 million in financial guarantees terminated.

WiggleCRC is not the first cycling company that Frasers Group has acquired – it also owns Evans Cycles and ProBikeKit. Wright predicted that the Wiggle acquisition will see the company become more entry-level and discount focused, with varying knock-on effects among other retailers.

Lusso founder John Harrison cutting what will become a new pair of bib-shorts (Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

"I don't think Wiggle will be the same again," he said. "I think the trends of Mike Ashley's brands… they're all sort of mega discount or entry-level kit, really affordable options. So I imagine Wiggle will turn into that.

This does mean that small businesses offering only entry-level kit could feel the strain, Wright said: "We have an entry-level range, but we offer other things as well, so I think the more premium brands will be fine. Because I don't see [Wiggle / Frasers] having the reputation to create something that's going to match the likes of say, Rapha, or, you know, like a more premium retailer."

With so many staff and bills to pay for, and inventory to keep moving, the biggest retailers – such as Wiggle – are the least stable, Wright pointed out. Now is the time, he insisted, to support local businesses, small businesses. 

Writing on his Lusso blog last week he said: "If current trends continue, we’ll only be left with big corporations running the show. I would encourage everyone to support local bike shops and local businesses if they can. And although recent times have been tough, the future looks promising."

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